Birmingham & Black Country

Website connects homeless in Birmingham with spare rooms

Shannon, who used to be homeless
Image caption Shannon was homeless for five years but found accommodation through the website

A charity is fundraising to support a website that finds rooms for homeless people in Birmingham.

Homeless Rooms Birmingham matches people needing accommodation with landlords with empty rooms in the city.

So far 50 homeless people have found somewhere to live using the website, with one woman saying it "means everything" to her.

Rough sleepers in the city increased by 60% last year, and charities say there are thousands of "invisible homeless".

Image caption Rough sleeping in Birmingham increased by 60% last year

Shannon first became homeless at the age of 16 and spent five years sofa surfing and moving between temporary accommodation.

She now has a permanent address after finding a room using the website, meaning she has been able to enrol on a course to train as a nail technician.

"I've got my own stability, I've got the support I need," she said.

"When I was homeless and staying on friends' sofas, I just felt lost, as if I had nothing."

The community interest company behind the website has so far relied on crowdfunding but it is now looking to get financial backing from Birmingham City Council.

Estella Edwards runs The Future Melting Pot, which works with Homeless Rooms Birmingham, and said the site needed funding for tenant liaison officers to vet potential properties.

They plan to work with support providers, such as the Salvation Army, to ensure tenants have access to specialist support to tackle problems such as drug abuse.

Geoff Horsfield, who runs a foundation in his name to support homeless people in the West Midlands, said: "The main aim [of the website] is to get people off the streets, and that can only be a good thing."

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